On November 21-24, the first ever International Tiger Forum was held in St. Petersburg, bringing together representatives from the 13 tiger range states, donor states, international organizations and other interested parties along with tiger experts from all over the world. Range state spokesmen presented information on their National Tiger Recovery Programs, and many detailed studies were presented. (For more information, please see: http://www.tigersummit.ru/eng/index.) The participants agreed on the goal of doubling the world’s tiger population by 2022, the next year of the tiger. U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero led the U.S. interagency delegation. U/S Otero gave a speech on U.S. policy to support tigers and biodiversity more generally, while USAID-Moscow mission director Charles North presented information about U.S. government programs to support tigers. A high-level segment of the tiger forum was held on November 23, featuring statements by the prime ministers of Russia, China, Bangladesh, Nepal and Laos. Predictions that China would make a funding commitment at the forum were not realized, but the range state officials all committed to recovery programs.
High-level delegates also participated in a video conference with young people attending the six-day International Youth Tiger Conservation Forum in Vladivostok. The youth had visited tiger habitats and shared their views on why tiger protection should be a priority for the national leaders in St. Petersburg. The St. Petersburg forum also attracted the support of film and rock stars, including Leonardo diCaprio, who not only attended the summit but personally donated $1 million towards tiger conservation and has filmed a TV series documenting his visits with anti-poaching brigades. Russian rock star and Vladivostok native Ilya Lagutenko also appeared with his group Mumiy Troll, singing songs about tigers in English, Chinese and Russian. Malaysian and Chinese stars also performed. The question of how to increase public awareness and reduce the illegal tiger trade were just one of the many focuses of the forum, which concluded with a segment on finding the financial capital to implement the many projects discussed at the forum.